Friday (Day Two): I woke up early to make sure to hit the Parachute drop, and as always the event totally delivered. The sight of hundreds of Sky B.A.T.s dropping down into the hotel foyer was a great one and there seemed to be a plethora of press coverage, which is always a great thing.
First thing down the pipe for Seminars was the Hasbro marketing seminar, planning to show us a nice chunk of what’s down the road for 2008 mainline (non exclusive) product releases. If this marketing seminar is any indication, we’d better start pinching our pennies, because there is a lot of stuff coming! The following are notes I jotted down from the seminar:
- The Joe design and marketing team has expanded incredibly! From a relatively small and intimate team of folks that were at the Convention last year, we now see a list of over a dozen marketing, management, media and designers all designated as part of the G.I. Joe team. This was the first real clear indication that the G.I. Joe brand has taken off in a way that it hasn’t done since the golden years.
- A couple of key members of the team couldn’t make it: John Warden and Mick Paolino. However, they couldn’t make it because they were currently in China working on something “big” for the movie line. Judging by the motions of the hands when we were told this, “big” could have several different connotations, and it definitely got a buzz going in the seminar room.
- The Original 13 will be completed before the movie line starts!
- Yes, we will be getting Quick Kick in the Anniversary line.
- There was some discussion about exactly what is going to happen with the Anniversary line as we know it during the movie in 2009. The answer explained to us was that the spirit of the line would continue with the familiar scale, construction, and articulation, but the line will get a somewhat more direct movie-related focus.
- We were also told that it was too early in the post-production process at this moment to have a trailer or promotional material from the movie available, but that we can expect to see our fair share of stuff in the coming months leading up to summer, ’09.
Next they went through 2008 Single Packs Wave 6, which I will break down here, with some notes about each.
- Tiger Force Duke; First and most importantly, his arms will be FIXED. He comes in his familiar Tiger Force deco, machine gun, and a very nicely detailed backpack (however, they could not make a removable shovel work).
- Mercenary Wraith; Based on the character from Devil’s Due, Wraith is going to end up coming in a standard version, and a short-shipped clear blue “variant” version, something sure to excite (or annoy) collectors. His mask flips up to reveal his face underneath, and his armor is exceptionally well detailed.
- Mutt and Junkyard; Another familiar face joins the Anniversary line with very nicely detailed sculpting, a great, thick padded glove to handle the dogs with, and a fierce looking Junkyard.
- Para-Viper; A new trooper designed to work with either the old school COBRA’s, or to be a part of the more current COBRA army, he comes absolutely layered with gear, including flippers, a parachute pack, and an elaborate removable helmet (and skimask underneath).
- COBRA Bazooka Trooper; A more familiar looking COBRA Trooper, in a slightly lighter blue uniform, he’s got a new netted helmet and very nicely detailed new webgear (with a very cool holster on the back!).
- Croc Master; Another familiar face, Croc Master is sculpted straight out of 1987 and comes with a great looking croc with opening jaws and great painted details on her face and snout.
Then they took us through the next wave of Comic Packs.
- Destro/Iron Grenadier; Even with the reused tooling, both figures look great. Destro will come with a black-headed (and red eyed) short-shipped variant. There’s no direct inspiration for the darker head color, the designers just thought it looked cool.
- Nemesis Immortal/Lt. Falcon; We didn’t get a whole lot of detail about the actual story tying these two characters together we got a good look and the amazing Nemesis Immortal (which we know as Nemesis Enforcer) and Falcon is looking great as well. Falcon’s backpack opens to reveal a communication device inside. A very cool touch. Unfortunately Falcon is hitting retail before they had a chance to work the “fixed Duke arms” into circulation, so he will have the familiar arms that we all know and hate.
- Tripwire/COBRA Commander; More unique deco’s and interesting ways of reusing tooling gives us a popular classic character, and a very evil, ceremonial new conception of COBRA Commander. Both figures look very, very nice.
Vehicles were our next focus, but they only really concentrated on two of them:
- The Firebat w/ Avac; The Firebat still fits in the vintage Terror Drome, but the cockpit has been retooled somewhat to fit the larger Anniversary figures. Avac uses a lot of already used parts, but the figure still looks great and very reminiscent of his classic image.
- The SHARC w/ Deep Six; Not much retooling needed in the cockpit, but the bottom has been tooled a bit differently so Torpedo can hang on the bottom as he did back in the day. Deep Six himself as some added articulation that has already been covered. There was also an idea mentioned that Deep Six’s head could be popped off and other Joes could take their place inside the dive suit if so desired.
DVD Entertainment Packs was another source of joy for the Joe fans as Hasbro unveiled those as well.
- Pyramid of Darkness; Comes with one of the infamous black “cubes” as well as a fantastic looking newly tooled ’85 Snake Eyes, a new animation-styled Major Bludd, another COBRA Commander (also pretty animated-accurate in appearance), and the long awaiting appearance of Quick Kick!
- Arise, Serpentor, Arise; This set comes with the more familiar ’86 style Serpentor, a great looking Dusty figure, a more cartoon-accurate red-faced B.A.T., and a skeleton representing Montezuma (I believe) from the Arise, Serpentor, Arise mini-series.
We looked at the 12” figures next (the Hasbro ones, not Sideshow) and got some early glimpses of Waves 2 and 3 of those. Wave 2 contains Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, and Torpedo, while Wave 3 has Duke, COBRA Commander, and Beachhead.
We ended the showcase with a look at the new Combat Heroes and saw images of a Snake Eyes/Zartan pack (with Snake Eyes looking a lot like the SDCC version, only with a different Timber and a different sword) and a Bazooka/Firefly pack. Pretty neat looking little figures.
With the showcase over, there was a quick Q & A, which I’ll try to recap:
- “Agent Trakker” is still coming this fall in the same assortment (Wave 7) but they didn’t have any samples to show at the Convention of him or the other figures in that assortment.
- The marketing and design team are trying to a balance when it comes to variants, but the Wraith variant will not be equally packed. They are hoping to carry the variants online.
- We saw many test shots with the familiar old style hip sockets, and were re-assured that those would be “fixed” by the time the figures hit retail.
- They are constantly tweaking articulation and have started adding some side-to-side articulation in the torsos as well as forward and back.
- There is a possibility of female COBRA Troopers somewhere down the line.
- Plans for the Comic are still up in the air, not sure on the whole reboot vs. non-reboot stance yet.
- The release date of the G.I. Joe film is dictated by the studio’s, though Hasbro does have some input. There was concern that a late August release date wasn’t a typical summer “Blockbuster” timeframe. The Hasbro reps said they were comfortable with the studio’s decisions.
- The designers aren’t sure if more Devil’s Due characters will ever make the cut or not, though they are always looking for inspiration.
- Someone asked about possible books containing the artwork from the packages through the years, and they seemed willing to explore that option, though nothing is currently in the works.
- More DVD’s with the Sunbow cartoons were asked for, and they said it was something they were always looking into, but nothing on the current radar.
- Electronic Arts is their current video game license partner, and they are doing a very nice game with a movie “influence”. It’s not going to be a straight up re-telling of the movie storyline, though, it will branch off and tell some different stories. More characters in cameo form, or possibly playable, are fairly likely. They could not yet comment on game play or game style.
- Doc was extremely successful, but no mail aways currently on the plate. Possibly something during the movie timing.
That pretty much rounded off the seminar on Friday…how little we knew just what cool new things would be in store for Saturday...
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